Straight Talk about Health Care Reform

Reforms to the Canadian health care system should target productivity and involve the implementation of a parallel private system


The goal of this project was to inform French and English speaking audiences about Canadian health reform proposals. The project discussed topics such as health care reforms in Stockholm, the legal context of health care reform in Quebec, the financial sustainability of Canada’s health care system, the effect of drug price controls on pharmaceutical innovation, and how the value of new drugs should be determined. While the Institute’s target audience was mainly the public in Quebec, they also disseminated their reports in English through the national media, in order to add their voice to the ongoing health care debate in the rest of the country. The project resulted in a number of publications, opinion pieces in newspapers, opinion polls, a government consultation, and lecture and debate participation.

Grant Outputs

Health Care Financing: Squandering billions is not the answer –

This report examines Canadian health care spending increases between 1993 and 2003, and finds that in spite of health spending increases, Canadian health care provision deteriorated in terms of accessibility. It suggests that it is likely this trend will continue. To control this problem, the report concludes that Canadians should be allowed to access private parallel health services. It reports that 51% of Canadians overall, and over two thirds of Quebec’s population favour such reforms.

Turning to the Private Sector in Health Care: The Swedish Example –

This article reviews the changes of the early 1990s to the Swedish health care system, and suggests that Sweden’s model could usefully inform the Canadian system. It highlights how in Sweden all medical services, excluding hospital emergency services, were opened for privatization, resulting in numerous medical professionals taking over and opening new clinics focused on patient care. Over 200 private companies opened in the Stockholm region, supplementing public health care and leading to an increase in productivity in all health services within the first year following health care reforms.

Economic Aspects of Certain Public Policies Concerning Patented Medicines –

This report examines the way that pharmaceuticals in Canada are regulated, and encourages the Standing Committee on Health to allow for free, competitive market forces to drive pharmaceutical consumption. It suggests that allowing pharmaceutical companies to advertise would not damage doctor patient relationships, and in fact could facilitate better informed conversations between patients and medical professionals. It also argues that the long regulatory process faced by pharmaceutical companies costs the industry millions of dollars for each product awaiting approval. It argues that patients should be able to purchase the medications they choose based on their own research, health concerns and consultation with their doctors, regardless of provincial health pharmaceutical lists.

Health Care Reforms: Just how far can we go? –

This report examines the limitations to private medical services imposed on provinces by the Canada Health Act (CHA). It argues that provinces that contravene the CHA are only opening themselves to financial sanctions, as opposed to legal sanctions. The report considers how provinces could go about establishing a parallel health system, without undermining the principles of the CHA. It suggests provinces should remove certain services from the list of insured services if they are offered in private clinics. By doing so, doctors could offer services without having to opt out of the public plan.

How Should the Value of New Drugs be Determined? –

This report considers drug pricing and the accessibility of different pharmaceuticals under Canadian pharmaceutical provision plans. The report finds that provincial drug plans that restrict the variety of drugs open to reimbursement do a disservice to Canadians. It concludes that Canadians should be allowed to compare pharmaceuticals on a personal therapeutic and economic basis, and to determine where their health spending is directed.

Grant Details

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